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Question & Answer Dr David Smallbone, Dr Judy Griffin and Beth MacEoin field questions from the audience.

by Dr David Smallbone, Dr Judy Griffin and Beth MacEoin(more info)

listed in symposium - menopause, originally published in issue 27 - April 1998

A Transcript     Contents     Introduction: Dr Goodman     Dr Bond (Intro)     Dr Lee

Dr Bond     Q&A: Drs Lee and Bond     Dr Smallbone     Dr Griffin     Beth MacEoin

Q&A: Smallbone, Griffin & MacEoin     Leslie Kenton     Q&A: All     Exhibitors & Speakers




Goodman: There are a few things that I would like to know; perhaps it will be expanded at the last one at the end of the day. This is the whole definition of oestrogenic and progesteronic. The confusion about phyto-oestrogens and oestrogen dominance. I would love to see research done comparing herbs, nutrition and homoeopathy for breast cancer and chemotherapy where women are given Tamoxifen which is supposed to act as a phyto-oestrogen, but as far as I am aware the funding is not there, and I think that is what we are trying to move to in the future and we hope that this Symposium may provide an impetus to achieve that end.



Rushton: I have a question for Judy. Agnus vitex berries, is that Agnus castus?
Judy: We call it something different in Texas.
Rushton: So we can just go to a herbalist or some place like Neal's Yard. Do you actually suggest that we go to the hedgerows because I've always wondered about that because of the pollution from motor cars and vehicles whether it is actually safe to do that or whether you are better to go to herbalists?
Griffin: You'd better go to a herbalist or herbal store if you're going to get the raw herbs to cook. If that is a problem you can get all these herbs in tinctured form already, that are individually tinctured, and then you just combine them that way, that would be simple.
Rushton: You mentioned tincturing down one of the things that you had. What level of tincture are you talking about? How many drops to to a glass of water?
Griffin: When you get through you would take anything from 15 drops up to a teaspoon depending on that person and their symptoms. I start with 15 drops of the tincture and then put it in just enough water to get in down, again it is in brandy, if you don't mind you can take to straight.


Audience: I would like to ask Dr Smallbone, this is all great and we all want to help ourselves but if I went into a health food shop, I think there will be a range of vitamins, minerals and all the rest of it and I just want to run. How do you know what to take, which make, how much? Do we all have to go to an expert?
Smallbone: No, we all have to become experts in some respects. This is a major problem. I agree with you, I want to run when I go into most health food shops and see this array as well. I think the thing is, you have to have some idea to start with of what it is you are looking for. And the big difficulty is where do you look because the label is confusing enough with all its bits and pieces on it and very often the information isn't there. I found that one of the simplest ways is, providing you know what you want, is write to the manufacturer. They will have one of two responses. One will be they don't answer your letter and in which case you know there is something a little bit fishy about it. Or they will actually give you quite a detailed response as to how their product is manufactured, where it comes from, how they check it and what data they work from. This to me is far more reliable then reading the label, but it does slow the process down of selection of course.


Audience: If I can just add... everything is claimed to work and be terrific. Every time you open a health magazine there is something new that is going to solve your problem. I just can't understand how to choose.
Smallbone: No. It is very confusing I don't think there is a simple answer to it. I think probably one of the most important factors again is everything will work, it's the speed at which it will work and what else it does or doesn't do that's important and I think if you find something that works for you that's fine. We are all individuals and we all react differently to each of them. All I can give you is a broad spectrum as to where to look.
     Let's just take for instance ascorbic acid. Vitamin C is not ascorbic acid. Ascorbic acid is one of the formats of vitamin C but it is not the best for the body to take. Szent-Györgyi who found vitamin C in the thirties was horrified when he went to America to find that they were using ascorbic acid to duplicate his results and they never made them because as he said that wasn't what he worked with. He worked with vitamin C extract from the plant and that's a totally different beast. This is a tendency we are all having to deal with nowadays, the supposition that because one thing with a similar chemical reaction works, then something else is going to.
     It's the problem with progestogen and progesterone. They are similar and have some of the effects but not all of them. It's the same as ascorbic acid and vitamin C, ascorbic acid will have some of the effects of vitamin C but not all of them and part of the difficulty is finding what works for you without creating too much disturbance in yourself.
     But don't be too worried. Most things do have some effect and it's better than nothing.


Audience: I am already using the Pro-Gest cream and I'd like to use a natural oestrogen as well. Have you any suggestions?
Smallbone: As yet in this country there are no full natural oestrogen creams simply because it would again come under a prescription only medicine. I'm not entirely sure that they would be the best version to have your oestrogen in. Which one are you going to select?
Audience: I don't know.
Goodman: Would you perhaps be interested in an oestrogenic herb? Would that be an option you would consider?
Audience: Yes, I would be prepared to use anything along with the cream.
Smallbone: At the moment, this is the only way you can get any form of oestrogen as an over-the-counter sales in this country. So, maybe Judy would like to comment.
Griffin: Angelica sinensis which is called Dong quai or Tang kuei and it is very readily available. You can buy it tinctured in a health store probably. You should go by the Latin name to make sure you are getting the right product and it is called Angelica sinensis and that is very highly phyto-oestrogenic and you will need to take it orally. It is not to make a cream with. You make a tea or take it as a tincture and you will get very much the kind of effects that you want from a natural oestrogen.


Audience: I belong to a charity called Daisy Chain which represents women who have experienced a very early menopause. I appreciate that their problems may be slightly different, but I would like to put a question to everybody who has spoken today as to what advice they would offer to women in my condition. We are on the receiving end of a lot of hormones because we can't have children and we have fertility treatment which involves big doses of hormones and then coming off those, so we go through the menopause symptoms many times. Myself, I have used homoeopathy to stabilise my condition with very good effect. And also a supplement of herbs which includes wild yam and things like that. But I think that it is very individual and I would like to know what advice the panel would give to women in my group who experience the menopause perhaps as a teenager, perhaps as a young adult woman and the emotional problems associated with that.
Griffin: I had a similar problem when I was 27 after my last child. I went through menopause and that is when I really got serious about finding out about oestrogenic type herbs, phyto-oestrogens and progesteronic-like herbs and what you would do in Herbalism is you would build the blood, which is the rejuvenating tonic that we talked about initially. This takes awhile. You are not going to get an overnight, fantastic effect – that's marketing when you hear about those things – it takes awhile. It can take 6 months, it can take a year. It can take up to 3 years.
     Very often when women do this they make a lot of other changes – there were spiritual changes that I went through, there were emotional changes, whether that was all due to the herbs or not, I wouldn't want to guess. But it took awhile and that is what you have to get into your mind that your body is healing what it has to heal first. I was not supposed to have any children either and I had twins and they told me that was impossible and then I had another one and they said that you can't be pregnant, you are sterile, and it's like well there is twins in the waiting room and there is another one or two in here.
     So, it is possible, the body doesn't know any age or order or difficulty. It is a matter if it gets the right things, whether it is spiritual, mental, physical, all the right formulas to make it work. One thing that I did do, I didn't rely totally on myself to have all the answers, although I was searching and very experimental at the time. You all are benefiting from some of that experimenting, you know. But I did go to other practitioners who were knowledgeable in their fields – acupuncture, homoeopathy, nutrition, everything – as well as medical doctors who were knowledgeable in their field. I didn't experiment, I gained knowledge and trust from them and that was very much helpful in the healing of my body.
MacEoin: From the homoeopathic standpoint, there are a number of potential benefits in using homoeopathy in a situation in which it is having to be used side-by-side with conventional treatment. One is that if it is possible to receive constitutional help from a practitioner so that basically the whole picture is being taken into account on all levels, the emotional reactions that the patient is going through as well as their physical symptoms and side effects that are coming from conventional treatment, it is very important that homoeopathic remedies, when they are prescribed accurately, can actually support patients very well with dealing with side effects of conventional medication.
     It is an unorthodox way to proceed in some ways, because the picture is obviously easier when homoeopathic prescription is taking place where there isn't that general turmoil of extra symptoms coming in from side effects. But, as well as dealing with that and finding support with that, if constitutional treatment is also given, that can also have a very important effect in supporting someone emotionally and physically as I've mentioned. But that really needs to come from a professional source in order to have the objectivity that is necessary.
     The other possibility is using some self-help in terms of acute remedies that could be helpful for symptoms that come up from time to time and where homoeopathic self-help is being used it is very, very important to have enough information upon which to actually base your choice, your selection of remedies. That can come from some self-help manuals that are available or in fact from some homoeopathic self-help classes.
Smallbone: I think that you partly answered the question yourself. You have to keep searching and for every woman who goes through this problem it is a very individual difficulty. Any response has to be tailored to that individual. I think also Beth and Judy have said the same thing I am going to say is find out as much as you can before you embark upon any form of treatment. And that applies to the medical profession as well.
     Get as much information from as many different sources before you feel what is right is for you. After all, you are a feeling being and therefore, as a feeling being, you have the right to determine what feels right for you and work with it. And there are so many different approaches that one can use. It really is your choice. But none of them are easy. And probably none of them work entirely on their own. Certainly, you have probably got to change your nutritional values and probably ask around a little bit about your own background. How were you brought up? What were you brought up to eat?
     One of the common factors I find with these early menopause problems is a history of some form of anorexia or some form of eating disorder anyway. And it may occur as early as four or five years of age. So I think you need to know a little bit about your own history as well.


Audience: A quick question for Dr Griffin. Is there another way to make the tincture without alcohol for those who have a sensitivity to it or don't like to use it?
Griffin: You could brew it in water. If you wanted to tincture in anything other than alcohol, it is not going to have the same effect, you are not going to pull out the same properties. What I have people do that are sensitive to alcohol, I just don't like the taste of it, I don't know how sensitive I am. I put the tinctured part that has the alcohol in very hot water, like boiling hot water. It won't ruin your tincture but it will dissipate the alcohol. It still has a little bit of taste. I also hide it in soy milk, which is pretty good.
Audience: I get cocoa-flavoured. It is pretty good.


Audience: I am from Fibroid News. We provide information for fibroid sufferers. I was trying to find out, from your own practices, do you know of any herbs, or any homoeopathic remedies, that have reversed the growth of fibroids?
MacEoin: From my own experience, I have seen a number of patients who have actually suffered from fibroids and the experience and feedback that I have had as an individual practitioner is that there is a great deal which can be done to improve the overall situation. I know that I keep coming back to it, but it is very much central to the idea of homoeopathy, you are very much treating that individual person and while there may be common symptoms that relate to the condition as a whole, you can take two or three patients each suffering from the identical condition, but they will have differentiating characteristics that relate to their own experience of that problem.
     From the point of view of actually treating fibroids, because it is a chronic condition, in other words it is not an acute self-limiting problem, the basic recommendation is that it is best if possible to see a practitioner, although there is self-help support that someone can use in terms of making dietary changes, lifestyle changes and so on, to actually improve the general situation, for specifically acting on the condition itself, and supporting someone through it, constitutional treatment is extremely effective.
     There are a number of remedies that actually spring to mind in terms of actually giving some acute support and again, they would be chosen very much on the specific symptoms that the person is actually experiencing at that time. The idea being that for a remedy to be active the remedy chosen must match the symptoms as closely as possible. So, from that point of view, it would be very important to select that remedy with the help of either a practitioner's support or very, very good, solid self-help manual to make that choice.
Griffin: With herbs you would want to work on the liver. So you would be using dandelion and decongesting the liver with safe herbs which you can use over a period of times which may mean you have some dietary changes to make also. The idea being that you would use your vitamin B6 better, some of the nutrients that you are taking into your diet and you would use the Vitex berries. I know that you all are going to laugh at my accent, but the Vitex berries are the ones that would be most beneficial for fibrocystic disease. That is going to balance your hormones.
Smallbone: Just one addition there. I think that Judy's last comment about balancing is the important factor because basically women post menopausally suffer less and gradually, increasingly less from fibroids. It is very much an oestrogen dominance problem. So anything that can counteract that oestrogen dominance is going to be valuable and the phyto-oestrogens are very useful. There are several homoeopathic remedies that almost pathologically are going to work in favour, but again, Beth's statement when you are using any homoeopathic remedy, you can't really use it unless it matches you. So, either you have to know yourself or you have to find somebody else who can tell you who you are.


Audience: This is addressed to Judy about the difference between strong and weak oestrogens. As I understand it, phyto-oestrogens are generally weak and are generally protective, if we fill our receptor sites with them, against strong oestrogens. And I just want to know if there are certain plants that are too strong in terms of their oestrogenic content.
Griffin: Phyto-oestrogens are 1/400th of the pharmaceutical type oestrogens, so they are very weak in comparison. I don't like that term myself because they are so effective, that we can't really call them weak in that sense. If you make your brews too strong I guess with Angelica sinensis I have never known anyone who could stand up to making that brew too strong because it would not taste too good. Even if you tinctured it in your favourite brandy it wouldn't taste very well and I guess you could overdo it in that sense, but otherwise I am not aware of any oestrogenic effect that would be too strong from herbs.


Audience: Do you have any particular essences which you would recommend for menopausal women?
Griffin: Are you talking about flower essences?
Audience: Yes.
Griffin: I do. I don't know if this is the time to go over that. I have some that are specifically for female balance, they work on the emotional support and the electromagnetic body for balance. They are not oestrogenic in that sense. There are a number of them. I have got them in one formula called Female Balance. It is mentioned in Remember Me to the Roses which is a book on the flower essences.
Goodman: International Flower Essences sell Judy Griffin's line of flower essences. Anyone wanting more information about Judy's line of flower remedies can find out on the concourse.


Audience: This is a question for Judy. What is natural progesterone in plant?
Griffin: Natural progesterone in plants are plant steroids. It is not exactly progesterone like in our body but they are called plant steroids and that would be your wild yam root and it would be your Vitex berries and it could even be herbs like yucca root. Any herb that has a vegetable steroid base would be what we would use as a progesteronic-type herb. They give you stamina.

Goodman: I think that if we have a break for tea and coffee and come back at 4.15 for Leslie Kenton's talk, and remember at the end of the day, there will be an additional question and answer period. Also, Julie Felix will be happy to sign books on the Holistic Menopause at the Findhorn table.


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